I sat down with a fellow UW student who in late August self-published her first book Show me your scars. As a recent fanatic of her work, I had many questions…
First off, tell me about yourself?
I am originally from Calgary, Alberta, born and raised there. I then moved myself out to Ontario, Waterloo because of the awesome co-op program they have, and also having the only environment and business program in Canada. I am part of a wonderful sorority called Kappa Kappa Gamma and am currently the president.
How did you get started as a poet?
Probably in high school, around 2014, I had an English teacher I loved, who was a part of the dedication in the book as well. We studied poetry and I loved it. But I never wrote back then.
Then I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in 2015 and began attending therapy. I had a therapist who asked me to start writing. And I always say I frankly sucked at the ‘dear diary’ entry, I just can’t do it. I felt so stupid trying to write it. I couldn’t just write ‘dear diary’ to myself and instead started free versing, which turned into poems.
That’s how I dealt with it, but I never wrote seriously, it was just kind of here and there. It really came together more when I was in my first year of university and my building had two unfortunate suicides a couple months apart. It was pretty jarring.
I was having a hard time with my mental health, and I remember waking up one night and I found this old book that I had from therapy. I wondered if I could write something in it. I just started writing, writing, and writing. I would wake up at 3 a.m. am and just start writing, and it kind of went on from there.
What section of your book did you enjoy writing the most?
That’s tough. They all came out at different points. The hardest one to write, but is the one I like the most, is the beautiful souls section. There’s just so many people who came into my life that made such an impact on me, and I’m so grateful for them. Some are still in my life, some have moved on.
I always say we’re in this world to either enlighten someone or be enlightened by someone. That was my favorite section, despite it being the hardest.
As a mental health advocate, what do you want this book to bring for mental health?
My big goal – which started when I first started writing – was to break the stigma around mental health as we’re still in the process of it, even though we hear a lot about it. This book was just all about being open and talking about all these wounds I’ve endured. I carried all of these scars in my mind, and showed people I’ve gone through and came out the other side.
Hopefully one person can read this, and something will reach out to them and let them know they are not alone.
As a mental health advocate, I talk about what I am going through as I have had people who opened up to me that helped, and I want to be that person for someone else.
Any other messages you want this book to spread?
Sometimes I wish I could normalize what it is to be a female in our society as I talk about some of the struggles we face and how we have to work so much harder in the book. I have experienced this in some of the co-ops I’ve worked in as it is a male-dominant energy industry in the corporate world.
As well, I want this book to normalize things we go all through, as we joked about the birds and the bees. It’s all about empowering ourselves. Own your sexuality. We should teach young women to embrace that and make choices and be aware of their self-worth. We don’t need to be feeling so much guilt for things that aren’t just discussed.
Any future books to keep an eye out?
A few days after writing this book, I felt like I finally could start writing again. I have some stuff in the works and I am posting some new stuff on my Instagram. I’d love to write another book eventually. So stay tuned.
Don’t be afraid to be you and embrace yourself. If you ever need someone to talk to about mental health, my door is always open.
As expected, Murray speaks with as much passion in her poems as she does in real life. Her priority over mental health and the hard work she gave to self-publish a book at the age of 23 is so inspiring. I look forward to more of her works and you can find more about her in her Instagram @erinmichellepoetry.